As part of its US Independence Day celebrations in the country, US Embassy Manila held a basketball clinic for persons with disabilities (PWDs) on July 1 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto jointly inaugurated the laudable event with some 100 participants from the National Wheelchair Basketball Team, students from the Philippine National School for the Blind and Philippine National School for the Deaf, and the Deaf National Basketball team. Coaches from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and several Alaska Aces players served as camp masters throughout the daylong activity.
According to US Embassy Manila, the basketball clinic aims to further the rights of disabled persons in the Philippines, encourage governments to protect their rights, and support the advocacy through a sports program. Moreover, they also highlighted the principles of teamwork, fair play, friendly competition, and the integration of individual performances with to reach shared goals.
“US Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged US embassies all around the world to conduct outreach events for persons with disabilities like this,” informed US Embassy Manila’s Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer Liz Liu.
She further noted that event also coincides with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) 25th anniversary on July 26.
Meanwhile, Alaska Aces, which has been a longtime partner of the US Embassy Manila for its free basketball clinics for the PWDs, said through the team’s Sports Development Head Richard Bachmann, “We are happy to be a partner of the US Embassy in this program as it is in sync with the ‘Nutrition-Action-Champion’ program of Alaska. It is also our way of giving back. And while it is a challenge for us, we want to do it, because as you can see, the coaches and players are having fun.”
Some of the Alaska players who were present at the clinic were Jeffrey Cariaso, Topex Robinson, and Christian Luanzon.
The US Embassy is scheduled to hold a second basketball clinic for PWDs in Baguio on July 11, and another one on the embassy grounds along Roxas Boulevard, Manila on July 31.
The Baguio leg will be held in partnership with the Office of the City Mayor and Saint Louis University Baguio, and will further include a futsal clinic, to be conducted again by the Alaska Aces.
Later on in the month at the US Embassy, a disability rights forum will also be held, gathering some 200 PWDs and students. Panelists will include Sen. Sonny Angara, Ambassador Goldberg, and invited private institutions such as SM Cares, National Council for Disability Affairs, and Tahanang Walang Hagdanan.
“The Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy is conducting a lot of initiatives that is not just focused on PWDs but also on women, youth, entrepreneurship, and the environment,” Liu continued.
In its 4th of July celebration, for example, they invited students from the National School for the Blind to sing the Philippine National Anthem, while the Rondalla on Wheels provided the music
The US Embassy also celebrated pride month on June 24 in Cebu to support the LGBT community, and will host a round table with visiting University of Massachusetts Amherst economist Lee Badgett in August regarding economic issues relevant to lesbians, gay men, and their families.